L.A. Times: Regulate both DFS and Online Poker

January 28, 2016

daily-fantasy-sports-californiaCalifornia has been on the forefront of legalizing and regulating online poker for years. Unfortunately, these efforts have stalled and the state legislature is now considering a daily fantasy sports (DFS) bill. But the L.A. Times suggests that rather than looking at each form of online gaming separately, the state should just regulate everything.

The common argument for DFS over online poker is that “it’s not gambling.” But anybody who’s played both games before definitely realizes that they contain nearly the same skill element. Furthermore, DFS is just as much a grey area as internet poker ever was, so why’s there an argument that it’s somehow safer?

This is exactly the point of the L.A. Times editorial, which states that consumers need to be protected with any form of iGaming. Here’s one statement that captures their opinion:

“Assemblyman Adam Gray (D-Merced) is now championing a bill to license and regulate just the daily fantasy sports operators, but his bill is likely to run the same gantlet of resistance from Indian tribes, racetracks and card clubs. The argument for setting up a safer environment for fantasy sports games applies in spades to online poker. It’s time for the Legislature to stand up to the competing gambling interest groups and adopt safeguards that apply across the online gaming boards.”

The key roadblock in getting an iPoker bill through the state legislature has been certain tribes, which want to minimize competition. Specifically, a tribal gaming coalition doesn’t believe that PokerStars or race tracks have any business in the online poker market. Whether they get their wish remains to be seen, but it’s pretty clear that the tribes are against legalizing DFS first. And for the sake of logic, passing a DFS-only bill doesn’t really make much sense.

Poker’s Aaron Jones wins DFS Championship and $5m

January 18, 2016

aaron-jones-fantasy-footballWe’ve seen a lot of poker pros crossing over to the daily fantasy sports (DFS) world, given that poker skills translate well to DFS. And if ever there were a sign of this being true, it comes in the form of Aaron Jones winning the Fantasy Football World Championship (FFWC) and $5 million.

Jones was one of 10 players who made the finals and was flown out to Los Angeles. Of course, with so much variance involved, it was iffy on how good a chance he stood of winning the $5m top prize.

He stayed near the top throughout most of the contest, but was deadlocked with two other players in the fourth quarter of the Pittsburgh Steelers/Denver Broncos game. However, Jones was the only top-three contestant who played Pittsburgh’s Martavis Bryant, who had a monster game with 9 catches for 154 yards and another 40 yards rushing.

This was just enough to give Jones the victory with 352.96 points – 14 more than second-place finisher “dany1234.”

Never before had the DFS world seen a payout quite this big. It’s questionable if we’ll ever see another $5 million prize, given that DFS is facing legal challenges in several U.S. states. Assuming we don’t see another payout this large, Jones will always have bragging rights with his $5m check.

As for his poker career, ‘aejones’ is best known for running the training site LeggoPoker, which he sold to Phil Ivey in 2013. Jones also has over $400,000 in online tournament winnings along with another $590k in live tournaments. But all of this pales compared to the massive prize he just won in the FFWC.

Boeree, Moneymaker among Global Poker League Team Managers

January 14, 2016

Event 51_Day 01_The Global Poker League recently announced teams and managers for its inaugural 2016 season. Among the most interesting names will be Liv Boeree managing the London team and Chris Moneymaker managing the Las Vegas team. Here’s a full look at who will be running each of the 12 franchises:

– Philipp Gruissem managing Berlin Bears
– Celina Lin managing Hong Kong Dragongs
– Chris Moneymaker managing Las Vegas Moneymakers
– Liv Boeree managing London Royals
– Maria Ho managing Los Angeles Sunset
– Marc-Andre Ladouceur managing Montreal Nationals
– Anatoly Filatov managing Moscow Wolverines
– Byrn Kenney managing New York Rounders
– Fabrice Soulier managing Paris Aviators
– Max Pescatori managing Rome Emperors
– Faraz Jaka managing San Francisco Rush
– Andre Akkari managing Sao Paulo Metropolitans

The initial role of the managers will be to draft three players from within the Global Poker Index Top 1,000. The remaining two spots on the teams will then be filled out by two Wild-Card players who are ranked in the Top 1,000.

After this, it’s a little unclear what exact role the managers will play on the franchises. They’ll definitely be providing some coaching to the other five team members, but will they also play in the games too? Or will they simply remain in the managerial role?

Switching to another topic, GPL founder Alex Dreyfus has announced that the teams will all be owned by the league. Initially, each franchise was going to be owned by individuals. But Dreyfus decided that having the league act as one cohesive unit would consolidate marketing efforts and avoid the need for each team to seek individual sponsorship deals.

The GPL Draft, which will be hosted by Phil Hellmuth and Kara Scott, takes place on February 25th. Then we’ll likely see match dates set and get a clearer picture on just how the GPL will operate.

California removes Online Poker from 2016 Hearing

January 6, 2016

california-online-pokerThere was excitement among U.S. online poker enthusiasts when they heard that California was already set to discuss the matter during this week’s hearing. Unfortunately, the discussion on Bill AB 176 – internet poker legislation introduced by Assemblyman Reginald Jones-Sawyer – will be pulled from the hearing.

The primary reason why is heavy criticism from most of the state’s Indian tribes, which don’t want PokerStars or race tracks involved in the market. They argue that PokerStars violated the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), and that race tracks should have nothing to do with internet poker.

It’s little surprise that certain tribal gaming interests are once again standing in the way of legal California online poker. After all, a 9-tribe coalition help up progress last year to limit the competition they face. They also wrote a letter railing against AB 167 last year, which included the following excerpt:

“Our Tribal Governments have invested many hundreds of millions of dollars in brick-and-mortar operations that create tens of thousands of jobs for Californians. We did so in reliance on the rights granted by the people of California and the compacts we have negotiated with the State in the exercise of those rights. Legislation like AB 167 – which could threaten these rights, these substantial investments, and so bitterly divide California Tribes – should not move forward solely for the sake of supporting a business model that might possibly benefit a few tribes in the short term, to the certain and permanent detriment of all other tribes, not to mention, the citizens of California.”

The stakes are high in California’s internet poker market, which could eventually be worth an estimated $380 million annually. So it’s unlikely that the 9-tribe coalition will back down any time soon if they still fear competition from PokerStars and race tracks for this large market.